NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Conservative Groups Attack the Problem of Jobs for Ex-cons

December 13, 2002

Religious conservatives and those whose aim is to fight crime have joined forces to promote employment opportunities for the roughly 550,000 men released from prison each year. Buoyed by their successes in placing welfare mothers in productive jobs, they seek to employ similar strategies to combat recidivism.

Advocates predict that if they are successful, the movement could save taxpayers considerable sums of money. Until now, concern for the plight of ex-prisoners had been a liberal issue. But conservative groups, such as the Manhattan Institute, say that the very strong self-help theme makes it s natural issue for them.

  • Over the past year, America Works, a Manhattan-based company, has used its welfare-to-work model to place more than 300 former prisoners in jobs.
  • Eager to strengthen ties between incarcerated fathers and their children, several religious conservatives have created training and job-placement programs for ex-offenders.
  • America Works conducts three-day workshops for its clients and then tries initially to place them in janitorial, warehouse, light-industrial, restaurant and telemarketing jobs.
  • Seventy-five percent of the 1,600 prisoners released each day across the nation were not in prison for violent crimes and one-third were in for drug offenses.

Columbia University professor William B. Eimicke conducted a study that found that of 891 ex-offenders who signed up with America Works, 501 finished the workshop and 389 were placed in jobs. Of those, 42 percent kept their jobs for at least six months.

Source: Steven Greenhouse, "Conservatives' New Cause: Jobs for Ex-Convicts," New York Times, December 13, 2002.


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